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Enhancing INNovation management capacity of CATalan small and medium enterprises 2019

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INNCAT19 (Enhancing INNovation management capacity of CATalan small and medium enterprises 2019)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

The call for proposals “Enhancing the innovation management capacity of SMEs” proposed the offering of assessment, mentoring and coaching services to SMEs with the objective of increasing and accelerating the economic returns from innovation.
Through the project INNCAT19, ACCIÓ (Agency for Business Competitiveness) has offered in the one single period 2019 the following innovation services in the region of Catalonia to 140 SMEs: 18 SMEs received Innovation Management (EIMC) services and 122 SMEs received Key Account Management (KAM) services.
KAM services were offered to the beneficiaries of the SME Instrument (SMEI) calls, offering support in the coach selection with the objective to help the company to become more innovative.
EIMC services were offered to SMEs with significant innovation activities and a high potential for internationalization, with the objective to enhance their innovation management capacities.
KAM & EIMC services were offered to 60 successfully completed cases (48 KAM and 12 EIMC). This represents a 122% execution towards the targets set in the proposal: 49 completed cases. Both KAM and EIMC services will help SMEs improve their innovation projects’ results.
Key Account Management (KAM) services for the beneficiaries of the SME Instrument, FET and FTI

Each SME beneficiary of the Horizon 2020 SMEI has mandatory access to a free business innovation coaching service (3-days for Phase 1 beneficiaries and 12-days for Phase 2, FET and FTI beneficiaries) offered by the European Commission. These services are offered additionally to the grants received by the SMEs for their innovation project, with the main objective to help them overcome the challenge of bringing a new product or service to the market and, thus, bridge the so called innovation valley of death.

It is the role of the KAM to help the SME make the most of the coaching service, offering them a short list of suitable coaches to collaborate with and supporting them through all process.

Most KAM services are offered to SMEI beneficiaries. In 2019 Catalan SMEs have had an excellent participation in the SMEI programme. 48 Catalan SMEs were awarded, a 4,33% of the total SMEs awarded in the programme. 41 SMEs were successful in Ph1 and 7in Ph2.

All (100%) Catalan beneficiaries of the SMEI have been contacted and received KAM services. SMEs beneficiaries from previous SMEI cut-offs received services too (cases started within project INNCAT 17-18). Furthermore, 4 SMEs beneficiaries from FET and FTI requested and receive KAM services (coaching services are not mandatory for FET and FTI beneficiaries).

In total, KAM services have been offered to 122 SMEs.

KAM services offered by ACCIÓ followed an easy 4-step process where 1) the company was contacted by the KAM to exchange general information. Once the company accepted receiving the service, a business innovation need analysis was performed using an open-source tool developed under the European Project sME-mPOWER; 2) The result of the analysis was used by the KAM to select at least 3 suitable coaches from the European Commission Database; 3) the company selected the coach and started the business coaching sessions; 4) the service was completed and KAM gathered feedback for improving forthcoming services.

In the sum, 48 cases were completed.

Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity for innovating SMEs

To help improve innovation management capacities in SMEs, ACCIÓ offered to Catalan SME assessment services using IMP3rove and Innovation Health Check (IHC), two tools that demonstrate compliance to the innovation management standard CEN/TS 16555-1. The services were offered by highly qualified senior staff trained in using IMP3rove and IHC and with experience delivering EIMC to SMEs.

The EIMC service for SMEs followed a 4-step process where selected SME with willingness to grow 1) received an assessment in Innovation Management capacity using the IMP3rove or IHC methodology; 2) based on the assessment needs/gap analysis results, an action plan was presented to the company; 3) the SME decided to implement the action plan and; 4) the case was completed and feedback was provided to ACCIÓ.

Once the service has finished, companies should be in a better position to manage its internal innovation processes in such a way that they were not only aligned with, but fully integrated into the company's overall business development and growth strategy.

ACCIÓ delivered EIMC services to 18 SMEs (10 started the EIMC process in 2019).

On the other hand, 12 services were completed.
Key Account Management (KAM) services for the beneficiaries of the SME Instrument

KAM main activity is to facilitate coaching services for SMEI beneficiaries. Nevertheless, to achieve the objective of fostering the impact of SMEI projects, links with COSME activities and Business Acceleration Services (BAS) are of key importance.

24 SMEs that received KAM services in 2019 had been also served under EEN COSME: 20 received advisory services for SMEI phase 2 proposals and 19 ASOs were reported to COSME as the SMEs were finally awarded for both SMEI phase 1 and 2; other services provided were IPR advisory s; financial support (SMEs interested in financial products, not grants); and finally 4 SMEs participated in several brokerage events (in Barcelona the MWC, IOT Congress, and beyond, the EU Brokerage Event on KETs NMBP - Call 2020 & 360° and the Hannover Messe).

BAS services were offered to SMEI beneficiaries by COCOOM consortium. Nevertheless, KAM involvement in the promotion of these activities is key due to the trust relationship generated between KAM and SMEs. ACCIÓ’s KAM team answered all questions raised by SMEs regarding BAS.

Some impacts achieved by companies that received services are: SIGNATURIT raised 7M€ funding; VENBIROTECH raised 2M€ funding; ONALABS received additional 75k€ funding from ERDF from a regional programme; etc.

Clients’ satisfaction with KAM services is high. A client mentioned that “the advice given by the KAM and other ACCIÓ members has been very helpful to identify our business needs and selecting the most suitable coach accordingly” and for another SME “the whole coaching process has exceeded expectations”.

Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity for innovating SMEs

Regarding the EIMC services, out of the 12 EIMC services completed, 8 companies (67%) used some services provided by ACCIÓ and 6 were served under EEN COSME to implement some of the recommended actions (4 received individual advisory and 2 participated in 2 brokerage events at the MWC and IOT fairs).

Some impacts achieved by companies that received services are: CASHKEEPER increased EBIT by 56%; LAVOLA partnered with Anthesis to strengthen its presence in the international market; PANIFICADORA SOLBLAT improved the manufacturing process and the communication of its value proposition; PROMISOL increased EBIT by 86%; etc.

“The EIMC has been very practical to us to have an external point of view of what the firm is doing and how is its performance in terms of innovation”, ” The tools and recommendations provided by EIMC have helped us to identify the opportunities to exploit” are quotes that confirm the clients’ satisfaction.
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